Today I'd like you to meet a young lady with great tenacity. I met Kemi a few years back in Lagos and I remember thinking "this lady is really quiet", and in that, is such great strength. One of the reasons I find Kemi's story particularly interesting is that at the time I met this priced jewel she wasn't sure of how she would move on or take the next needed steps but her story proves that she did. If you are at any kind of crossroads, you too can. I do Hope that after reading this story, you will find courage to #takethatfirststep. Here is Kemi's story.
It happened on the 16th of May, 2003, a Friday afternoon in Birkin Ladin Jos, Plateau State. I was in an eighteen seater bus heading for an evangelism village outreach when the accident happened. Our vehicle lost control and when it stopped I found myself still seated but unable to move my legs. The Diagnosis, T10/T11 compression fracture of my spinal cord and just like that, I became paraplegic, paralyzed, unable to walk and using a wheelchair.
Before I had this injury, I had dreams and goals I wanted to achieve. I had just obtained a first degree in Biochemistry and was actually a youth corper when the accident happened, my future was laid out perfectly ahead of me but Immediately after the incident, I thought my life and dreams were completely over.
Becoming physically challenged is a life transforming experience, accepting the changes associated with disability is another category of a challenge in itself. For the first few months, after the accident, I could not seat up by myself, I could not do anything by myself other than feeding myself, I lost my independence completely. Over the years it gradually improved but as a certified independent woman every form of dependence posed serious threats and for me a whole set of challenges.
As time went on, I soon realized that there were absolutely no reasons to let go of my dreams, and I determined to try, my goal was to get to a point in life where even abled-bodied people would marvel at what a person with disability like me could achieve and in turn be inspired no to give up.
Nigeria is not an easy country to live in with a disability. With the help of God, I have been privileged to live outside the country after the incidence of my disability and the lack of infrastructure and facilities to support persons with disability in Nigeria is appalling. For example, most private and public structures are not disabled friendly the entire system seems to be structured to even compound our disability even when we are trying all this in addition to social stigma and discrimination.
Despite these sad but stark realities, my greatest achievement so far is finding strength and courage to move on with my life post my disability. I feel happy and fulfilled anytime I don’t allow my disability to get in the way of my dreams. Today, I have a Masters Degree in Biotechnology and currently work as a Scientific Officer at the National Biotechnology Development Agency, Abuja.
My counsel and advice to persons with disabilities is not to let disability influence their lives negatively. There is more to life than the challenges we face and every single person on earth has a minimum of one challenge which they battle with daily however we all have to learn not to allow these challenges take advantage of us. To all youths, “Make hay while the sun shines”, do the needful now to live a better future and to the ladies, stay beautiful inside and outside.
My name is Oluwakemi Hannah Oladipo I hail from Omu-Aran in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara state. I don’t allow my disability to get in the way of my dreams, I STAND FOR ABILITY.